Staff writer

Without face shields, all health care staff are more vulnerable to infection of COVID-19. They are equally essential personal protective equipment as masks. And much like masks, are in short supply.

Ben Winans, the superintendent of Wayne Trace school district, consulted Tim Manz, the curriculum director, to see if there was a way to utilize their resources to help.

Winans thought that the 3-D printer at school would be a perfect means to help. Manz said that he would look into it.

Manz found a 3-D print file from the National Health Institute for face shields. On March 31 he brought the printer home so that he could run it for continuous production. Production was halted after 22 were completed due to lack of supplies. Specifically, the 3/4” elastic.

The masks are produced in a several step process. The first step is printing the frame, once the frame is printed 3/4” elastic is added for the headband, then the transparency shield is added by securing with rubber washers. The shield can be interchanged as necessary.

The 3-D printer is a Flashforge Inventor that was purchased by Wayne Trace school district from the funds received from a Title IV-Grant. Since purchasing it, the school has utilized it for various projects.

Some projects include printing robot parts for the robotics team and drone frames for the Drone Racing League.

“While I was making the face shields, I contacted my life-long friend Dr. Spangler. from Paulding County Hospital and asked him if they had need for face shields like these. He told me they could use them, and to bring them in.” Manz stated. He dropped them off on April 6.

“Hopefully, these face shields can be beneficial and help to slow and stop the spread of COVID-19, as well as keep our medical professionals safe. Thanks to all who are putting themselves in harms way while battling this virus.” Manz said.

Across the 49 bridge, Eric Thornell, a junior at Antwerp High School has been busy making face shields as well with the 3-D printer from the school.

Motivated to help, Thornell approached Mr. Miller, the superintendent, with the idea of utilizing the printer for the face shields. Miller was onboard with the idea and had the printer delivered to Thornell’s house.

It was delivered to his home to eliminate visiting the school, minimize interaction with others in accordance with the stay-at-home order and to allow continuous production.

A staff member from the Hicksville hospital reached out to him and requested some for the hospital. Thornell willingly obliged - this was the specific reason why he started printing, to help local facilities. Face shields have also been donated to Dooley Funeral Home.

When I spoke with him two weeks ago he stated that there were 275 masks accounted for. “I am not stopping until I run out of supplies,” he stated.

He has received immense support from the community. Local businesses have donated supplies. Dooley Funeral Home, Community Memorial Hospital (Hicksville), Emergency Management Agencies from Paulding and Defiance counties, Antwerp EMS, Paulding County Sheriff, Antwerp Pharmacy, Love-Heitmeyer Funeral Home (Oakwood), and Paragon (Antwerp) have generously donated to Thornell’s efforts.

I took an engineering class and that reinforced my knowledge on how to use the printer, its settings and to print the face shields,” Thornell said.

In this unprecedented time with so much uncertainty, it is astounding to see such community minded people utilize their talents and resources to ensure the community receives the equipment it needs. Moreover, this community has extraordinary school districts that offer the use of equipment to complete such projects.